What's It All About, Alfa? A Visit to the Alfa Romeo Exhibit at the LeMay Museum

July 25, 2021


By Chris Bright

I don't like all-you-can-eat buffets. I just don't. I get suckered into having a bit of everything, and end up enjoying none of it. I much prefer a delicious meal where the chef takes you on a journey and each dish builds on the last.

That popped into my mind yesterday, but in this case the chef is exhibit curator Fred Russell, and the courses are cars in an exhibit at LeMay-America's Car Museum in Tacoma, Wash. Car-for-car, Alfa Romeo: Born of Passion is one of the best automotive exhibits I've experienced.

I am a passionate Alfisti and have been fortunate enough to visit important collections such as Alfa Romeo's own museum in Arese. It is phenomenal, but it is so large that it is hard to fully appreciate what you are seeing after a couple of rooms. On the other hand, the collection in Tacoma is comprised of only 21 cars, each one a beautiful chapter in Alfa's history.

The exhibit starts in the lobby with what I consider the most important Alfa of all: the 1934 Tipo B (P3) driven to victory by Tazio Nuvolari in the 1935 German Grand Prix. It has everything. This P3 represents the apex of '30's Grand Prix design. It was driven by the GOAT driver on a team run by Enzo Ferrari in one of the all-time greatest drives. The P3 also happened to humiliate the Nazis.

Not to be outdone, the next car is also a holy relic of St. Tazio. This is a 1932 Monza 8C 2300 that was victorious in the 1933 Mille Miglia and was a workhorse of the Scuderia Ferrari team. The Zagato-designed body is so iconic and so beautiful.

I could go down the list car-by-car with "oohs" and "aahs" but it would be a disservice. The exhibit moves into the post-war era with a pair of 1900s and a pristine Giulietta Spider. The collection flows through examples of every decade from the '50s through the '00s with a mix of passenger and race cars.

Additional vehicles will be added to the rotation throughout the collection's year-long run, so there will be plenty of excuses to return. One other feature of note is that the exhbit will be supplemented by the "If Alfa's Could Talk" series of lectures to provide a deep-dive into the history and cars of Alfa Romeo.

Check it out if you can, it is really quite remarkable. Ben fatto, Fred!

latest articles

Diminishing Returns: The History of 16-Cylinder Engines
Typically in automobiles, more is better but 16-cylinders shows that is not always true.
read more
Brooklands — The Lost Birthplace of Motorsports
Brooklands was the first banked track and was the forefather of Indianapolis and Monza, but now has been lost to time.
read more
The Fiat 1100 Engine and the Rise of the 'Etceterinis'
Were it not for the Fiat 1100 engine, an entire generation of handmade Italian race cars known as 'Etceterinis' may never have come to be.
read more